Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Commercial Bungy Jumping Turns Twenty.

Yesterday, tourism pioneers Henry van Asch and AJ Hackett celebrated the milestone, and the huge growth in bungy, with another leap together from New Zealand's Queenstown's Kawarau Bridge - where it all began twenty years ago.

The bungy concept began with the people of Vanuatu throwing themselves from towers with vines attached to their feet in a manhood ritual that developed over hundreds of years.

Some people thought that jumpers were crazy to leap in faith with a rubber band tied to their legs. Others thought their mums must be mad to let their offsprings do it. Well, I am one of those mad mums who let both my daughters bungy jump.

Actually, I didn't really have much choice. In 2000, we came back to New Zealand for a month's tour of the whole country. D had just turned sixteen, and an age where she was old enough to jump. We were in Rotorua where we saw Whoopy Goldberg the sheep, and other farm animals. We went to see people bungy jump. D sprung this surprise or rather shocking news to us.

"Mum, I want to bungy jump."

What do you expect me to do? It wasn't cheap. She wanted the whole shebang of souvenir T-shirt saying "I bungy jumped", a video, photographs and the jump. It mounted to $200 I think.

Off she went into a carriage hoisted up by a crane. My heart was in my mouth as she dived down.

One of the operators told me, "You have a very brave girl."

I wanted to say," A very stupid one."

The next to jump was a Japanese male tourist. The way he was carrying on with kneeling, bowing and making the sign of the cross made it seem that he was going to jump to his death. He was up there for a long time, I guess eventually the operator told him, "buddy, either you jump or you go down by the carriage."

Eventually he jumped. When he got down, his face was white like a sheet and he looked as though he had seen a ghost. Only then, I realised that I knew why the operator said Dwas a brave girl.

I became very proud of my other Amazon daughter G , then twelve wanted to jump too, but she was too young. I consoled her and agreed she could go black water rafting. I wasn't mad to go, but I had to go with because G was too small in stature to go by herself.

Come January of 2005, I was back in Auckland with G who had turned sixteen. I had no doubt she would make me a mad mum again. They had a promotion two jumps for the price of one. G couldn't persuade any of her friends to take up this free offer. So what did she do?

"Mum, I will jump twice."

This is what she did from the Auckland Harbour Bridge. One from the front, and one backward flip. She was the only jumper who jumped twice. Not even the big macho man did it. My Uncle David in his sixties drove us there, and we walked up the bridge to see her jump. The winds were very strong and we had to be buckled to harnesses.

"You crazy to let her jump," commented Uncle David.

In four years time, I will probably be a mad mum again when Sam turns sixteen.

No comments: